THE Church of Scotland has called on the UK Government to restore the aid budget for South Sudan as charities warn of a “very dire” humanitarian situation.

It comes as a third week of fighting in neighbouring Sudan is forcing thousands to flee across its borders.

Nearly 30,000 people have already crossed the border to South Sudan according to Oxfam, with 6,000 people arriving daily.

Christian Aid warned that the situation is “very concerning”.

READ MORE: Sudan: Scottish family stuck amid conflict, says SNP MP

The charity's country director, James Wani, said: “The situation is very dire. Three- quarters of the population is projected to be in need of humanitarian assistance and the new influx of refugees from Sudan has worsened the overall situation.

“It’s very concerning. The humanitarian response plan even before the Sudan crisis was severely underfunded.”

Wani also stressed that the UK Government cut in funding has had a "significant impact" on the humanitarian situation in the country. 

He said: “Over the last few years, the UK Government has cut significantly on international aid. That has had a significant impact, especially for organisations like Christian Aid.”

Even before the conflict erupted in Sudan, more than half the population of South Sudan – or 9.4 million people – were facing extreme hunger and needed urgent assistance according to Oxfam.

Wani warned that without more solidarity from the international community, humanitarian organisations are in danger of being "overwhelmed".

He said: “Without more solidarity, like the international community showed in Ukraine, we could be overwhelmed by the plight of all those needing the essentials of food, water and medical help.

“Many women and children are sleeping out in the open at risk from violent crime and snake bites.”    

“There are close to one million South Sudanese people in Sudan. The existing aid programme for South Sudan this year is only a quarter funded and that’s before this latest influx of desperate people.

"As well as South Sudan’s existing severe food emergency, there are also worries about the fragile peace process from disrupted cross-border trade, including food and fuel supplies."

The Church of Scotland has been working with the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan since 2015 on a programme looking to bring an end to conflict in the country. 

Reverend Ian Alexander, who leads on global justice issues for the church, said: “War and violence is never the solution to any problem and we have been following the crisis in Sudan with great concern and dismay.

“We profoundly regret the loss of lives and destruction of properties and extend our sincere condolences to all those suffering from bereavement and injury.

“We appeal to all parties to lay down their arms, agree to a permanent ceasefire, pursue peaceful means to resolve this unnecessary conflict and pray that God gives them the strength and wisdom to do what is right to avoid any more bloodshed.

“Our Presbyterian partners in South Sudan are keeping us updated on the situation and we are very concerned about the impact that it will have on the region.

“The government in South Sudan has reported that tens of thousands of South Sudanese nationals have already returned to their homeland from Sudan due to the conflict.

“This will put further pressure on the world’s youngest country which is already facing a humanitarian catastrophe with an estimated 9.4 million people requiring aid and around two million people have been displaced in the country.

“Our brothers and sisters in Christ have suffered profoundly from armed conflict, corruption, violence, floods and famine for years.

“We urge the UK Government to restore the international aid budget to South Sudan, substantially cut in 2021, to its previous level to help aid agencies like Christian Aid.”